drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

It Is an Effort, and It Is Worth It

I've been meaning to write this post for a while, and I think the rant triggered by my recent reading makes this as good a time as any.

The above is somewhat dated -- at the time of the first draft, I had finished Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear duology, in which one character realized that when you make a sacrifice for the people you love, whatever that is, however much it costs, it isn't really a sacrifice, not if you really love those people. Hogwash. Read the book, like the book, love the book, or not -- I'm fine with all of that; it isn't about the book or Willis, who is a great person to listen to on panels.

But, whatever you do, do not believe this crap. It will fuck you over.

In the larping community, there is a man who is legally deaf. At the beginning of every larp in which he plays, he stands up, introduces himself, explains that he is deaf, and makes two requests. The first is that people face him when they speak to him, as he can read lips. The second is that, if they put on accents in the larp, they not do that when talking to him, as that makes it harder for him to read their lips.

I mentioned this in Alarums & Excursions, and someone there asked if he had problems reading lips of someone who normally talks with an accent. I passed this question along.

His face lit up. He was delighted that someone made the effort to ask him. This is a man who understands that, each and every time he larps, he is asking each and every player and GM to make an extra effort to make it possible for him to play.

And, it is an effort. Make no mistake about that. It is an effort to make sure that, every time I say anything in his presence, I face him and speak slowly and clearly, and repeat myself as necessary.

And, it is totally worth it.

It is very important not to lie to yourself, to pretend that something you are doing to help someone out is no trouble at all. You will tie yourself up in knots if you do this long term. You will find yourself choking back resentment. You will get angry at yourself for not being perfect. And, the odds are that the person you are doing this for will realize that something is wrong.

It is possible that you may succeed in convincing the person you are helping that it really is no trouble at all. This may be worse. If you lead me to believe that it really is no trouble to help me out, then I will expect this as a normal state. I will not think anything of asking for help and, if at some point, it gets to be just a little too much for you and you show some hint of annoyance or resentment, this will surprise and hurt me. After all, all indication is that whatever help I am asking you for is absolutely no trouble at all.

Now, there are people who believe that it really is no trouble at all to help out, and it is not for me to say that they are wrong in their own case. Some people have a rare grace.

For the rest of us, it is no shame to feel that it is an effort to help people out. You must believe that. If you do not, you will tie yourself in knots trying not to feel put upon, trying not to resent the people you are helping, and trying not to hate yourself for not being perfect. This will not do you any good, and it will not do the people you want to help any good.

I am not saying to expect someone to grovel in gratitude. I am saying to understand and accept that what you do is an effort. The people you help are not stupid. They know that you are putting in effort on their behalf, and every minute of that effort is telling them that they are worth it.

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